A Warriors fan says he did not see the president of the Toronto Raptors strike a sheriff’s deputy in the face as the executive tried to enter the court after his team won the NBA championship in Oakland.
Greg Wiener, a 61-year-old season ticket holder, said Friday he was standing next to the officer when the encounter occurred Thursday involving team president Masai Ujiri.
On the most eventful day of his life, Ujiri was celebrating winning the Raptors’ first ever NBA championship as well as dealing with bombshell reports linking him with a move to an NBA rival as one of the highest paid executives in basketball.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported Ujiri is being headhunted by the Washington Wizards to run the team’s basketball operations on a deal worth more than $14 million per year ($US10m).
Authorities said initially they are investigating whether Ujiri pushed and hit a sheriff’s deputy in the face as he tried to get onto the court after his team won the NBA title in Oakland.
Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly tells the San Francisco Chronicle that Ujiri tried to push past a deputy who then asked for his credential. Kelly says the deputy pushed back and the executive pushed again and “struck our deputy in the face.”
“[The deputy] did not know who the man was and asked for the credential, and that’s when he tried to push past our deputy, and our deputy pushed him back, and there was another push that moved up and struck our deputy in the face,” Kelly said.
“At that point, several bystanders intervened and the executive did ultimately get back onto the court without displaying credentials.
“It’s not like we were going to chase him down. He had a right to be there, but he didn’t follow the credential policy.”
He says several bystanders intervened and Ujiri ultimately got onto the court without displaying any credentials.
Authorities have announced they will push for a battery charge against Ujiri and will submit a report to the Alameda County district attorney.
Wiener, who saw the incident unfold, said the deputy didn’t ask Ujiri for any credentials before putting his hand on Ujiri’s chest and pushing him.
Wiener says Ujiri shoved him back before bystanders intervened.
Wiener says he was not interviewed by authorities.
A video of the altercation obtained by NBC Bay Area shows Ujiri and a deputy being held back courtside by bystanders.
The NBA and the Toronto Raptors say they are co-operating with California authorities investigating whether the team’s president pushed and hit a sheriff’s deputy in the face.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass said Saturday the league is in contact with the Raptors and authorities while gathering more information.
The Raptors said in a statement to The Associated Press that the team is cooperating with authorities and looking into the incident. The team says it looks forward to resolving the situation.
Raptors spokeswoman Jennifer Quinn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.